Phila. Inquirer reports EPA churches’ use of Eco-Palms

The Rev. David Tatgenhorst of St. Luke UMC in Bryn Mawr leads members in celebrating Palm Sunday on the church lawn prior to their procession into the sanctuary singing Hosannas for worship. They celebrated with eco-friendly palms, a growing practice that was featured in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer.  John Coleman photo

Four EPA United Methodist pastors were pictured in the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday, April 13, atop an article that featured their churches’ use of Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday celebrations. The positive publicity resulted from the best of Connectional Communications that linked the United Methodist Committee on Relief with an Inquirer reporter, with the EPA Conference communications office, with district staff and finally with several church pastors who answered an appeal for information.

Reporter Kristin Holmes called EPA Communications Director John Coleman after reading information about Eco-Palms that mentioned UMCOR. She asked if any United Methodist churches in the area used these special palms that farmers in Guatemala and Mexico harvest using sustainable agricultural methods and sell to U.S. groups through fair-trade practices that benefit them and their land.

Coleman, who had never heard of Eco-Palms, researched the subject online and then e-mailed Holmes’ question to District Resource Assistants (DRAs) who then put out the word to their churches. The Rev. Doris Dalton, Central DRA, let Coleman know about several pastors who responded, and Coleman contacted Tatgenhorst and the Rev. James McIntire of Hope UMC in Havertown to find out more.

McIntire explained how four UM churches—Hope, St. Luke, Plumbline and Chestnut Hill, plus other non-United Methodist churches—purchase the palms together in bulk each year, and their pastors meet just before Palm Sunday to divide and gather their respective palms for their churches. Unlike popular, traditional, long, yellowish green palms, Eco-Palms have fanlike fronds of fresh dark green leaves attached to a central stem.

Several more EPA pastors e-mailed Coleman later to let him that they too use Eco-Palms in their churches.
Holmes’ story describes Eco-Palms as “harvested and marketed in sustainable ways,” according to one expert source, to “help preserve the rain forest and provide an economic boost to palm workers and their communities.”

See the article and photo at
AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer